5 Healthy Habits to Stay Healthy As You Age
Good habits are important at every age. But seniors, in particular, should be mindful of their health.
Growing older can cause changes in the body that impact your quality of life and overall health. Fortunately, adopting some basic healthy habits can help you lower your risk for disease and keep you doing what you love.
Here are five healthy habits to keep in mind:
1. Eat Healthy
Eating healthy is one of the best things you can do as you grow older. According to Healthline, a well-balanced diet helps you “maintain a healthy weight, stay energized, and…lowers your risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.”
Because your metabolism slows as you age, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes and make sure you are getting a good balance of the five main food groups:
- and Protein Foods
Talking to your doctor can help you get a better understanding of your individual dietary needs. This can be especially important if you have a health condition like diabetes or high blood pressure that can be better managed through healthy eating.
For more information on eating healthy, check out the National Council on Aging’s Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors.
2. Stay Active
There are many myths about exercising as you age. Some seniors may think that they’re “too old” and there’s “no point,” or that exercise will be too frustrating or dangerous for them to do. The reality is that there are plenty of exercises that are safe for older adults. Finding one that you enjoy (and is approved by your doctor!) can help you reduce your risk for disease, improve your flexibility, and keep up your energy.
Some of the best exercises for seniors include:
- Strength training
- Tai Chi
3. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is still important as you age, but may be more difficult than it was in the past. According to the National Sleep Foundation, changes to our “sleep architecture,”and circadian rhythms happen as we get older and can contribute to sleep problems. Sleep disruptors that can worsen as we age include insomnia, snoring, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome (RLS).
To cope, it is recommended that you exercise in the afternoon, try to establish a consistent sleep schedule, and avoid alcohol and caffeine later in the evening. If issues persist, talk to your doctor for professional help. There may be an underlying issue you aren’t aware of.
4. Stay Connected
An often overlooked healthy habit is staying connected and socializing. According to the Elder Care Alliance, “Research has found that social support can play a significant role in overall health as people age. Spending time with friends and family members can boost quality of life, including both physical and mental health.” Maintaining these social connections can help reduce stress and the risk of anxiety or depression. It may also help cognitive health as we get older.
So how can you avoid loneliness and stay connected? There are plenty of ways to interact with others. Many communities offer resources aimed specifically at the senior community. You can search in your local area for:
- Exercise classes
- Lifelong learning opportunities
- Senior community centers
- Art and music classes
Are you 55+ and live in Washtenaw County, Michigan? Find senior activities near you here.
5. Keep Your Mind Sharp
Noticing your cognitive function change you older? Fleeting memory problems or trouble learning new things as quickly as you once did can be part of the normal changes to our brain structure and function as we age, according to Harvard Health Publishing. The publication lists some strategies backed by research to keep your mind sharp, including ongoing learning, economized brain use, and properly timed repetition. Staying active has also been suggested to preserve the brain, including thinking skills and memory.
Of course, prolonged or severe memory loss or confusion is not normal. See a doctor if you are experiencing signs of dementia.
Staying Healthy As You Age
Staying healthy is key to maintaining your independence and quality of life as you age. Keep these healthy habits in mind and get on a path to a healthier you!